Enos Cuthrell was a self-made man who made a success of his Birmingham flooring business during the 1940s and '50s.
"As a young man he would get a job and take his sanding machine and go to work," recalled his niece, Mrs. Bobbie Smith of Chattanooga, Tenn. "He would even sleep at the job site if he had to." Beginning in the 1930s, Cuthrell (pronounced KOOTH-rull) did flooring work around the Southeast. He worked in Oak Ridge, Tenn., during World War II, helping build facilities for the Atomic Energy Commission and those working there.
By the 1950s his business was well-established. He lived in a house on Lakeshore Drive, and was interested to learn of then-Howard College's plan to build a new campus in the vicinity. He bid to do the flooring work for campus buildings, and got the job.
"He was thrilled by the confidence the school showed in awarding him the contract," said Mrs. Smith. "He told me he was so grateful to Howard for that opportunity." Cuthrell and his wife, Ginny, were Baptist, and they thought highly of the school. He was determined to show his appreciation, and decided to leave Samford something in his estate.
"He was very adamant about wanting to help the school," said Mrs. Smith. "He told me that quite often." Along the way, Cuthrell began investing successfully in real estate, his niece recalled, and his resources grew even more.
Cuthrell died in 1976. Through his will, he had arranged for his estate to go to his widow for her lifetime, then to Samford. "This 'give it twice' plan was the perfect way to provide for his wife, while also fulfilling his desire to help Samford," said Stan Davis, Samford gift and estate planning director.
Ginny Cuthrell died April 20, 2003. By that time, the Cuthrell estate had grown to almost $2 million. The money came to Samford last fall, a total of $1,991,151.40.
"Uncle Enos helped so many people along the way," recalled Mrs. Smith. Now, his generosity to Samford will help even more.
Editor's Note: Bobbie Smith has a tie to Samford also. Her late husband, Tom Polk Smith, was a graduate of McWhorter School of Pharmacy.